One quiet Sunday afternoon two gentlemen bloggers, rather than waxing lyrical upon the idiosyncrasies of our favourite internet spaceship game and mulling over the finer points of bloggery, decided to blow the crap out of each other instead. Of course, bloggers being bloggers meant we had to write about it afterward.
Welcome to part three of my analysis of how I got a virtual space-battering from a mild-mannered Canadian. In case you missed them in the two previous combats, I suffered two close defeats; in the Frigate duel, Kirith Kodachi's Rifter escaped destruction due to my poorly prepared Merlin and our Catalyst on Catalyst Destroyer duel saw my idiotic suicide charge gift Kirith with a surprise victory.
My chances were now hanging by a thread. The rules Kirith and I had agreed upon meant that Kirith was one win away from a flawless victory. I on the other hand could not afford another defeat. To be honest, I wasn't sure I could afford a victory either, given that the longer I clung on the more each ship loss would cost.
My ship selection for the Cruiser bout was more a statement of loyalty than anything. Instead of opting for my tried-and-tested safe option of a kiting Caracal, I wanted to breathe life into the much maligned Moa. It's the Tech I Caldari hybrid turret platform and an out-and-out combat ship. In the past, whilst in an active null-sec alliance, trying to acquire a couple of Moa hulls to put together some throwaway roaming fits proved a fruitless search met with derision. "A Moa? Why?" was often the response.
But now, the post-Crucible Moa could be a different beast. It is now a tad more agile (5% bonus to inertia) and hybrid turrets have received some positive rebalancing attention too; they are less demanding on powergrid, CPU and capacitor, reload times have been halved and tracking and damage has been enhanced.
Surely it was time for Quasimodo to step out of the shadows.
The Ship: Moa, SSS Moose Murderer
Anode Neutron Particle Cannon x5, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Gremlin Rocket
Large Shield Extender II
Invulnerability Field II
Stasis Webifier II
Y-S8 Hydrocarbon Afterburners
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II x2
Damage Control II
Power Diagnostic System II
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I x2
Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
[3x Warrior II Drones]
Effective Hit Points: 33,428 EHP
Shield Resistances: 66%/63%/72.4%/77%
Weapon Range: 3.23km Optimal +6.25km Falloff
Damage Output: 393hp per second (345 hybrid/48 drone)
Speed: 495m/s with Afterburner
Capacitor Stable at 46.9% with everything active.
The Strategy: Close-Range Bell-Ringer
This fit was solid, simple and idiot proof (or so I thought). It would either work or it wouldn't. Its only real weakness was its speed, making it vulnerable to a fast long-range kiting strategy. I was gambling that Kirith would have some kind of close-range face-ripper which this should have the chin to stand up to with its phenomenal omnitank (I've seen respectable battlecruiser fits with weaker tanks).
Some pretty malevolent DPS at face-butting range, a rocket launcher and three Warrior IIs to deal with enemy drones and capacitor stability to have some staying power against energy neutralisers had me feeling pretty confident about my chances this time. This ship was unsinkable!
The Duel: Moa vs. Arbitrator
An Arbi-what? As I warped to zero and pretty much pulled up alongside Kirith I pondered the surprise hole in my ship knowledge. Caldari, Gallente, Minmatar and faction ships I'm pretty au fait with but I suddenly realised I knew feck all about Amarr ships beyond the fact they were exclusively armour-tanking (therefore slow - which suited me) and used energy weapons (EM and thermal damage only, my weakest resists but still solid). I mean, I'd heard of an Arbitrator, but aside from the fact it looks like an industrial clothes-peg it was a mystery. Oh well, this changes nothing, lock and fire.
Oh wait, he's got five Hammerhead II medium drones? The Amarr have a drone boat? How odd. No problem, I planned for this. Out go my Warrior IIs and I open up with my rocket launcher, assisting with my webifier. At this point I had no idea that he had another ten of the little bastards waiting in the drone bay. My shield tank was holding up admirably despite some filthy electronic warfare and capacitor neutralising effects I noticed. I still wasn't worried as I focused on whittling away at his drones, occasionally recalling and redeploying them to frustrate his locking.
Then I ran out of rockets. Oops. Someone forgot to put any in the cargo hold. That slowed down drone destruction considerably. Oh well, I should probably just concentrate on killing the Arbitrator which my heavy neutron blasters were slowly plodding on with. My shield was getting low and the Arbitrator was still at roughly half armour.
It was then that I realised that despite my afterburner happily contributing to my increasingly worrying capacitor drain, I wasn't actually moving. Arse-biscuits! No wonder I was struggling to make further headway into the Arbitrator's armour, I was at a dead-stop and had been for the entire time! Aarghh, massive piloting fail! With my ship making no attempt to achieve optimal range and with Kirith's tracking disruption, it was probably the Crucible rebalancing I've got to thank that I'd registered any hits at all.
Only then, with my capacitor at critical levels and my shield tank about to fail, did I make a desperate break for my optimal orbit. Suddenly I realised I was the underdog and I was in danger of paying for my earlier complacence. The hostile Hammerhead IIs relentlessly chewed at my armour and on into my hull as my neutron blaster salvos started to exact their toll on the Amarr cruiser. From my optimal my shots were registering much better and more consistent damage, stripping away the Arbitrator's armour and smashing through to the hull, causing smoke to belch forth.
But it was too little too late as my hideous hunchback Moa left a lifetime of ugliness for a moment of incandescent explosive beauty and I was left facing the reality of a three-nil drubbing at the hands of the upstart colonials. The contest was over.
Once again, a competent fit was undermined by my piloting incompetence. Had I been putting out damage from my optimal range throughout the combat, I have little doubt that the Arbitrator's tank would have failed long before the Moa's. My key errors were;
Focusing too much on drone-on-drone combat, distracting me from the business of actually flying my ship.
Failing to pack enough ammunition to get the job done (38 rockets were as much use as a chocolate teapot).
Underestimating an unfamiliar enemy ship. Note to self, fly more Amarr to get a better understanding of those flying door-knockers.
Despite the result, I really enjoyed these duels, particularly this one. I found cruiser combat to be comfortably-paced compared to the lightning-fast frigate and destroyer duels. It's been a great learning experience for me and all credit must go to my venerable opponent for being the better pilot and gracious in victory. Thank you Kirith for being patient whilst I dithered, for FRAPSing the whole thing and for making it look like I had a chance.
If one learns more from defeat than from victory, I must by now be the wisest pilot in New Eden.
FINAL RESULT: Canada 3-0 England
Epilogue: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been in touch and as a result of this duel, Canada is allowed to maintain its independence and Kirith is getting on the New Year's honours list. Meanwhile my standings with The British Empire have been reset and I am now KOS to all Beefeaters.